Nataly shares her journey towards finding joy, letting go of the fear of painting, and why creativity makes her happy.
Nataly Kogan is an entrepreneur, speaker, coach, artist and author passionate about helping people design and live their lives to be what they genuinely want. She is co-founder and CEO of Happier, Inc. which has the mission of helping people find more joy and meaning in their everyday lives. A couple of other pretty legit skills to know about her: 1. She can tie a cherry stem with her tongue and 2. She can cook and put together a meal for her family AND clean the kitchen in under an hour. Weâ€™re sure Natalyâ€™s food is as awesome as Nataly.
Although it took her a lot of discipline to describe just one thing that makes her happy, creating is the basis of what makes Nataly happy. Painting, drawing, or even making art on a plateâ€”for her, itâ€™s all about art and the different ways you can bring it into peopleâ€™s lives.
Growing up, Nataly and her family did not have a lot of money but art was a big part of their lives. It wasnâ€™t about creating a painting then.They visited museums, made homemade gifts (To this day, her father writes her a poem every year for her birthday.), and had special meals. She always tells her daughter, Mia, that art is not what you see but what you feel. To Nataly, creating means making something that didnâ€™t exist before and producing a new visual and sensorial experience for the people interacting with it.
Now, Nataly realizes that creativity taps into a large part of who she is. This takes forms in many different ways. Her daughter is not a morning person, for example, but making her a smiley face breakfast out of hard boiled eggs, cucumbers and peaches makes her smile in the morning and makes Nataly smile, too. When she is in her tiny studio, she zones into painting and tests out new styles. All of it is relevant to Nataly and also practical.
As much as she would like to spend 5 hours a day painting, thatâ€™s usually not possible. Afterall, Nataly has a career and of wants to dedicate time to her family. Yet, because she knows art is an anchor in her life, she puts time aside to create every day. Sometimes itâ€™s only 15 minutes to sketch or a meal sheâ€™s making for a her family that day. Itâ€™s not always something she seeks but what time allows in her day.
Nataly believes all humans, are creative at their core and that creating makes them happy. Why is this? On a philosophical level, the world needs us to create things for survival and progression. We all play a part in that. On a scientific level, humans are distracted and do not focus on what they are doing 50% of the time, which is chemically stressful on their bodies. Studies have shown, however, that creating art requires our complete focus. Just like the eastern world has taught for centuries, through yoga and meditation, this helps us to be more mindful and present in the moment which is scientifically tied to having joy.
It’s important to note that Nataly wasn’t always on the search towards happiness. She came to the United States as a refugee with her family, living on welfare and foodstamps in the projects of Detroit. Nataly quickly learned that she was good at being a high achiever and was constantly looking for ways to achieveâ€”being good at school, going to university, starting a companyâ€”and everything she did had to be something that would put her on the path of achieving. She studied abroad in Japan and became really good at creating traditional cherry tree paintings, but didnâ€™t continue painting after she returned, mainly because it didnâ€™t fit into her frameset of being an achiever. It wasn’t until her 40th birthday last year that she gave herself the birthday gift of studying watercolor painting in Tuscany and she discovered the art of doing something, not because it fit into her life, but solely because it made her happy. After years of preaching gratitude and compassion, she finally practiced compassion on herself.
Working at Happier and already having helped thousands of people find joy in their everyday lives, Nataly expressed her gratitude and kindness towards others but not towards herself. She crashed inside, went to a pretty dark place, and realized she couldn’t keep living this way. Her struggle and suffering were a major part of her journey. Once she started sharing her story, she realized her suffering was not what made her special. People started to share thousands of stories of suffering with her and this community practice of sharing gave her the power to let go of what was holding her back and not allowing her to be happy. Now she is free to be herself.
Because Nataly allows herself the time to do what she loves, she is a much more relaxed and happy version of herself. The best reaction came from her daughter, who one night saw her painting in her studio, and when Nataly realized she was there Mia expressed how she noticed a positive change. In addition, many people have reached out to Nataly to express how she’s inspired them to get back into something that brings them joy. She shares it is an honor to inspire people by simply doing something she loves and talking about it.
Although some have told her she is fearless, Nataly expresses she definitely has fears. In fact, she believes we all do but should shift them into a place of love. For example, after a speaking engagement where she expressed how painting has changed her life, she painted live and on stage. Shaking and fearful of how others would take to this, Nataly expressed it was one of the most rewarding experiences of her life. Now her goal simply remains to bring art into the lives of many people. She would love to have it be a way to make a living.
What else makes Nataly happy? Her daughter, the movie remake of â€œThe Thomas Crown Affairâ€, being with her family, and memories of her dad getting her contraband Bazooka gum as a child. You can learn more about Nataly by visiting Happierâ€™s website, her Instagram or her personal website.
Links / Read / See / Hear
Jason Zappolo for editing and mixing this episode; follow Jason on instagram.
Orly Margulis for social media support; follow Orly on linkedIn.
RocÃo CastaÃ±eda for ongoing support; follow RocÃo on instagram.